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Making Smaller Circles

“Instead of writing about your town write about the front of the opera house. Start with the brick lodged in the upper left corner.”



In the Art of Learning by Josh Waitzin he references a story about a student who is assigned to write a five page paper on her town. When she sits down in front of the blank page to write, she too, goes blank. Voices of doubt and judgement invade her thoughts:

Who cares about your tiny town?

Who cares about what you have to say about your tiny town?

Who do you think you are?

 Her teacher, responding to her writer's block, adjusts the assignment. 

“Instead of writing about your town write about the front of the opera house. Start with the brick lodged in the upper left corner.”

This specificity unlocked a stream of creativity and the student returned the next day with twenty pages. 

She went small and got big.

This exercise of focusing on the micro is fundamental to meditation practice and other disciplines dedicated to cultivating awareness and presence. 

Waitzkin writes, “This little anecdote has the potential to distinguish success from failure in the pursuit of excellence.” 

Go deep.

Robyn Coady